Saturday, May 02, 2009

Varlamov Steals Game One

Capitals 3, Penguins 2
Scoresheet - Post - Times

Before the series began, the Pittsburgh Penguins talked about rattling the Capitals' rookie goaltender. But it was Simeon Varlamov who may have rattled the Penguins instead. He made an unbelievable stick save when it looked as if Sidney Crosby had a wide open net. It kept the game tied at two and Tomas Fleischmann buried the game winner less than two minutes into the third period. The Caps hold on to win game one 3-2.

Clearly the number one star of the game was Simeon Varlamov who stopped 34 shots including a barrage of third period shots to preserve the lead. He was only beaten twice by the Penguins. The first goal was a shot by Crosby who found some open space in the middle and fired it back to the far post. You can chalk that goal up as nerves for the young goaltender. The second goal was deflected by Boyd Gordon and it fooled Varly, beating him just under his glove and over his goalpad to sneak through.

The Penguins got the early jump on the Caps as it looked as if nerves had the best of them. The Pens out shot the Caps 11 - 8 and held the Caps with out a shot through the first seven minutes or so for the first period. Crosby got the Pens on the scoreboard first and an unlikely source got that goal back.

The Capitals answered back as Dave Steckel scored his first goal in the playoffs to tie up the game. It was a garbage goal too, as the puck was shot back in front of the net by Matt Bradley. Steckel was able to get the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Then the Penguins got into a little penalty trouble. Sergei Gonchar was called for a delay of game penalty and Matt Cooke took a hooking call a little bit after that creating a 5 on 3. The Caps took advantage when Alex Semin slap-passed the puck to Alex Ovechkin for his 4th goal of the playoffs. Since then the Penguins did not take another penalty for the rest of the game. The Caps would be 1 for 2 on the power play.

The penalty kill also played well. The Caps killed all 5 penguins powerplays. Including two third period penalties that gave the Penguins a chance to get back into the game. But the Caps were able to kill off both penalties and even held Evgeni Malkin off the goal column on the score sheet.

Fleischmann got the go ahead goal off of a turn over in the neutral zone. Semin and Nick Backstrom turned the play into a two on one with Backstrom and Fleischmann. Backstrom made a picture perfect saucer pass to Flash who shot it high. The puck hit Fleury in the shoulder and into the net. The Verizon Center faithful went nuts as the building almost got as loud as Sergie Fedorov's game seven goal.

The Capitals may have started a bit slow, but they finished much better. The game one victory was important as it keeps the home ice advantage for the series. They are playing a very good Penguins team that has the ability to put any team's lights out. For the moment, the Caps have a hot goaltender and the first win. We will see if they can build on that.

Game two is on Monday night. The Penguins have some time to make the necessary changes and the Caps have time to recover. We should see the Penguins best as they try to split the home series for the Capitals.

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